Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two Extremes

A grad student brought his laptop to the desk in a tizzy. He was trying to access an online article, but the database was requesting a login or $15 for access. I took a look, and the article was out of the date range for the package that we subscribed to. To say he was peeved is an understatement.

"This is ridiculous. It's a very popular journal for this field. You should have this. All the other universities have this."

(All the other universities? Are you sure? Have you made an exhaustive survey of all other universities?)

"I'm sorry, the article you want is just not in the date range."

"Who can I speak to about this because it is really unacceptable."

(I love being bottom of the totem pole. Here let me hand your unreasonably demanding ass off to someone who is paid a lot more to deal with you.)

And I still tried to help the grad student instead of telling him to go away.

"Here's that contact info. We could ILL the article for you, and it will be emailed to you in a day or two."

"No, that won't do. I have to have it TONIGHT."

(Tonight? Did the professor give you a pop paper? Do professors give pop papers? It seems they must with the prevalence of students who must have articles that night for papers due the next day. I mean why else could it happen? /sarcasm)

And I still tried to help the grad student instead of telling him to go away.

"May I see the search results for this journal title?"

"Yeah, sure."

I did a catalog search for the journal title and what do you know, the complete print run of the title was available in Big Research Library, and Big Research Library was currently open. He could go check it out.

"This should be available online. Everyone else has this available online. I don't want to have to leave and go get it." BIG RESEARCH LIBRARY IS RIGHT NEXT DOOR!!!!

I started backing away while smiling and grinding my teeth. "I'm sorry, I can't help you anymore."

That's right. I'm telling you to GO AWAY.

He sort of stared at me a second. (What? Is it unheard of for someone not to bow over until their back breaks to help you?) And then he walked away.

He was so lucky. If I hadn't been still weak from bronchitis, I would've bashed him over the head with his laptop.

I went back to my desk to recuperate, and my phone rang. A female University Z employee had a DVD that another employee had checked out, and she had kept it late. She wanted to pay the late fee for the other person and get the DVD checked out to her over the phone if possible. She wished to show the movie to a class.

I tried to help her out, but unfortunately, she was a new employee and didn't have a library account yet. I renewed the DVD for the other employee so that person wouldn't continue getting fined and advised the caller to visit any of the libraries to create an account. I also told her how to get an ID since it didn't seem she had one yet. She was very appreciative and asked for my supervisor's name and email. I gave them to her and thirty minutes later, I got this email.

Dear Vampire Librarian's Boss,

I want to commend your staff for great service tonight when I phoned Library X about a DVD I wanted to borrow, already checked out by a colleague. The Vampire Librarian was extremely patient and helpful and went above and beyond to get an answer for me.

I so appreciate being treated like that, and it reflects so well on the hard work you all do.

Many thanks,
Random University Z employee

Customer Service: It's a roller coaster ride.



Anonymous Edward said...

Something I find interesting is that some printed subscriptions cost almost half as much (including postage from the US to Australia) than an online subscription; and yes I know that the online ones usually include back issue searching etc. Still, when your entire budget is less than $5k a year you have to scrimp and save.

Luckily only staff ask for journal articles and are always grateful for what ever I can get, the public are a little harder to please.

Good to see you feeling better!

5:23 AM, November 29, 2007  
Anonymous Dances With Books said...

That grad student was lucky indeed. Had it been me, I would have told him to drag his procrastinating ass to the Big Library or to simply plan ahead next time. Here's the line to use: "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Have a nice day."

11:16 AM, November 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh, you have so little time to complete this research! That's so unfair for your professor to give you such a short deadline. Let me call him/her and explain that this kind of projects takes far more than just one day. After all, we all know the library doesn't own every possible journal and interlibrary loan doesn't happen overnight..."

2:38 PM, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Ha! Dances with Books and Anon, I love your suggestions. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying the old, "Maybe you shouldn't have waited until the night before."

I expect this stuff from undergrads but not the grad students.

2:52 AM, December 01, 2007  
Blogger The.Effing.Librarian said...

I would have just stared at laptop boy without trying to help him: you are a good librarian and I am bad; that's why I am in management and kept away from the desk. See? it pays to give bad customer service because they promote you!
- effing.

1:09 PM, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Katya said...

I will have to admit that as a grad student I was just as much a procrastinator as I was in undergrad -- I was like this guy. However, the big difference is I wouldn't have behaved like this guy. I would have thanked you profusely for finding out for me that the article was in Big Research Library and I would have gratefully traipsed my butt over there.

Don't you hate the "All universities have this" line? Whenever I get it, I'm tempted to bash the person over the head with the nearest available weapon.

1:12 PM, December 01, 2007  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...


I am very guilty of procrastination also, but the difference from us and "laptop boy" (as coined by Effing Librarian) is we don't feel we're entitled to anything due to our procrastination. If that makes sense.


The difference between print subscriptions and online is sometimes very big and sort of ass backwards, at least to me.

7:59 PM, December 02, 2007  
Blogger Potato said...

"I would've bashed him over the head with his laptop."

What happened to your maglight?

1:14 AM, December 04, 2007  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

I try not to carry it with me EVERYWHERE.

It's safer for everyone. Especially the students.

4:10 AM, December 04, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home